Punishing "Unworthy" Oxford - Homo Rhetoricus
Homo Seriosus - Jonson, Greville,Sidney, Henry de Vere
Homo Rhetoricus - Vere/Shakespeare
Richard A. Lanham - The Motives of Eloquence:
...From the two views of life I've called rhetorical and serious there devolve, I've suggested, two corresponding poetics. Since Shakespeare's sonnets superpose these two poetics one upon the other, it may be useful to review the differences between them.
Western poetics descend from Aristotle, and for Aristotle poetry was serious. We don't know what he said about comedy but, since he complains in the Poetics that at first it was not taken seriously (Greek letters), perhaps he would have remedied this deficiency. His discussion of tragedy intertwined it with seriousness in a way lasting from that day to this. Tragedy imitates an actions first and foremost serious: (Greek letters). The word (????), usually rendered "heroic," points not to a specific pattern of behaviour but a different kind of self. Else makes my point in his commentary on (????)
1. The dichotomy is moral, but not in the Platonic, much less in a Christian sense.
2. It denotes, not virtue and vice as states, but two different attitudes toward virtue. The (Greek letters - better/good?) are those who strive for it, who spend their lives, and if necessary lost them, for the prize of arete. The (Greek letters - bad/worse?) are those who do not. They are not the vicious but the "no-account," those who spend their lives making money, or "having fun," or both.
3. Thus the (better/good?) are those who take themselves and life seriously and therefore can be taken seriously; the (bad/worse?) are those who do not and cannot.
4. The dichotomy is, by the nature of the case, absolute and comprehensive. All men who act - i.e, all men engaged in the practical life - are necessarily either (good?) or (bad?), there is no room for a third class.
Serious man and rhetorical man, nicely distinguished. Serious poetic, like tragedy itself, premises a central self; rhetorical poetic premises a social self whose behaviour splits into two parts - persuasion and pleasure.(snip)
And made my self a motley to the view,
Gored mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear,
Made old offences of affections new;
Most true it is, that I have looked on truth
Askance and strangely; but, by all above,
These blenches gave my heart another youth,
And worse essays proved thee my best of love.
Now all is done, have what shall have no end:
Homo Seriosus - Jonson, Greville,Sidney
Homo Rhetoricus - Vere/Shakespeare
Richard A. Lanham - The Motives of Eloquence:
Rhetorical man is an actor; his reality public, dramatic. His sense of identity, his self, depends on the reassurance of daily histrionic reenactment. He is thus centered in time and concrete local event. the lowest common denominator of his life is a social situation. And his motivations must be characteristically ludic, agonistic. He thinks first of winning, of mastering the rules the current game enforces. He assumes a natural agility in changing orientations. He hits the street already street-wise. From birth, almost, he has dwelt not in a single value-structure but in several. He is thus committed to no single construction of the world; much rather, to prevailing in the game at hand. He makes an unlikely zealot. Nor is conceptual creativity, invention of a fresh paradigm, demanded of him. He accepts the present paradigm and explores its resources. Rhetorical man is trained not to discover reality but to manipulate it. Reality is what is accepted as reality, what is useful. So Protagoras's wonderful answer when asked if the gods exist: "I do not know whether they exist or not. It is a difficult question and life is too short. " Nothing is aught till it is valued. Rhetorical man does not ask, "what is real?" He asks, "What is accepted as reality here and now?" He is thus typically present-centred. Past and future remain as possibility only, a paradigm he may some day have to learn. Until then, he does not sentimentalize them. No golden-ager, he, and no Utopian either.
Nor is he a Puritan, especially about language. He cannot be surprised ceaselessly pushing through language to a pre-existent, divinely certified reality beyond. No such reality exists for him. He can play freely with language. For him it owes no transcendental loyalties. Rhetorical man will always be an unregenerate punster. He will be not so much dazzled by the delights of language, poisoned by roses, as a sophisticated connoisseur of them. Such a connoisseurship would form a predictable analogue to the emphasis on scoring.
The rhetorical view of life, then, begins with the centrality of language. It conceives reality as fundamentally dramatic, man as fundamentally a role player. It synthesizes an essentially bifurcated, self-serving theory of motive. We play for advantage, but we play for pleasure, too.Such a scheme is galvanized by the Gorgian prime mover, (Greek letters), pleasure. Purposeful striving is invigorated by frequent dips back into the pleasurable resources of pure play. Rhetoric is always ritualizing, stylizing purpose in order to enjoy it more. The rhetorical view thus stands fundamentally opposed to the West's bad conscience about language, revels in what Roland Barthes (in "Science vs. Literature") has called "the Eros of Language." Homo rhetoricus cannot, to sum up, be serious. He is not pledged to a single set of values and the cosmic orchestration they adumbrate. He is not, like the serious man, alienated from his own language. And if he relinquishes the luxury of a central self, a soul, he gains the tolerance, and usually the sense of humour, that comes from knowing he - and others - not only may think differently, but may be differently. He pays a price of this, of course - religious sublimity, and its reassuring, if breathtaking, unities.
What merit lived in me, that you should love
After my death,--dear love, forget me quite,
For you in me can nothing worthy prove.
Unless you would devise some virtuous lie,
To do more for me than mine own desert,
And hang more praise upon deceased I
Than niggard truth would willingly impart:
O! lest your true love may seem false in this
That you for love speak well of me untrue,
My name be buried where my body is,
And live no more to shame nor me nor you.
For I am shamed by that which I bring forth,
And so should you, to love things nothing worth
We believe it.
But for our sake, and to inflict just pains
On their prodigious follies, aid us now:
No man is presently made bad with ill.
And good men, like the sea, should still maintain
Their noble taste, in midst of all fresh humours
That flow about them, to corrupt their streams,
Bearing no season, much less salt of goodness.
It is our purpose, Crites, to CORRECT,
And punish, with our laughter, this night's sport,
Which our court-dors so heartily intend:
And by that WORTHY SCORN, to make them know
How far beneath the dignity of man
Their serious and most practised actions are.
Ay, but though Mercury can warrant out
His undertakings, and make all things good,
Out of the powers of his divinity,
Th' offence will be return'd with weight on me,
That am a creature so despised and poor;
When the whole court shall take itself abused
By our ironical confederacy.
You are deceived. The better race in court,
That have the true nobility call'd virtue,
Will apprehend it, as a grateful right
Done to their separate merit; and approve
The fit rebuke of so ridiculous heads,
Who, with their apish customs and forced garbs,
Would bring the name of courtier in contempt,
Did it not live unblemish'd in some few,
Whom equal Jove hath loved, and Phoebus form'd
OF BETTER METAL, and IN BETTER MOULD.
Well, since my leader-on is Mercury,
I shall not fear to follow. If I fall,
My proper virtue shall be my relief,
That follow'd such a cause, and such a chief.
The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds,
That did not better for my life provide,
Than public means which public manners breeds.
Thence comes it that my name receives a brand,
And almost thence my nature is subdu'd
To what it works in, like the dyer's hand:
Pity me then and wish I were renew'd;
Whilst, like a willing patient, I will drink
Potions of eysell, 'gainst my strong infection;
No bitterness that I will bitter think,
Nor double penance, to correct correction.
Pity me then, dear friend, and I assure ye
Even that your pity is enough to cure me.
And to these courteous eyes oppose a mirror
As large as is the stage whereon we act,
Where they shall see the time's DEFORMITY
Anatomized in every nerve and sinew
With constant courage and contempt of fear.
a Traveller, one so made out of the mixture and shreds
of forms, that himself is truly deform'd. He walks
most commonly with a Clove or Pick-tooth in his
Mouth, he is the very mint of Complement, all his Be-
haviours are printed, his Face is another Volume of
Essayes; and his Beard an Aristrachus.
Amorphus. That's good, but how Pythagorical?
Phi. I, Amorphus. Why Pythagorical Breeches?
Amo. O most kindly of all, 'tis a conceit of that fortune,
I am bold to hug my Brain for.
Pha. How is't, exquisite Amorphus?
Amo. O, I am rapt with it, 'tis so fit, so proper,
so happy. --
Phi. Nay do not rack us thus?
Amo. <>. Give me
your Ears. Breeches Pythagorical, by reason of their trans-
migration into several shapes.
Mor. Most rare, in sweet troth.
transl. Ben Jonson
If to Quintilius, you recited ought:
Hee'd say, Mend this, good friend, and this; "Tis naught.
If you denied, you had no better straine,
And twice, or thrice had 'ssayd it, still in vaine:
Hee'd bid, blot all: and to the anvile bring
Those ill-torn'd Verses, to new hammering.
Then: If your fault you rather had defend
Then change. *No word, or worke, more would he spend
In vaine, BUT YOU, AND YOURS, YOU SHOULD LOVE STILL
Alone, without a rivall, by his will*.
A wise, and honest man will cry out shame
On ARTELESS Verse; the hard ones he will blame;
Blot out the careless, with his turned pen;
Cut off superfluous ornaments; and when
They're darke, bid cleare this: all that's doubtfull wrote
Reprove; and, what is to be changed, not:
Become an Aristarchus. And, not say,
Why should I grieve my friend, this TRIFLING WAY?
These trifles into serious mischiefs lead
The man once mock'd, and SUFFERED WRONG TO TREAD.
...For, let your Soul be as-
sur'd of this (in any rank, or profession whatever) the
more general, or major part of Opinion goes with the
Face, and (simply) respects nothing else. Therefore,
if that can be made exactly, curiously, exquisitely,
thorowly, it is enough:
WHO SICKENED IN SERVICE OF HIS KING and Countrie, in defence of the States. And died at the Hagh in Holland. Aprill 1625.
By ABRAHAM HOLLAND.
Breath'd her allarmes in this our Hemisphere,
But he pursu'd them, with a Noble fire
To fame his Countrie, and his owne desire
Grounded on that: Great Venice and the Fates
Though lucklesse of Bohemia, with the States
Now fatall to him, and th'attempted Seas
Shall be his true, though Posthumes witnesses.
He sought no new-made Honours in the Tide
Of favour, but was borne the same he di'de.
Nor came he to the Elysium with shame
That the old VERES did blush to heare his Name
Brighter than theirs: where his deserts to grace
His *Grand-fathers* rose up and gave him place,
And set him with the Heroës, where the Quire
Of ayrie Worthies rise up, and admire
The stately Shade: those Brittish Ghosts which long
Agoe were number'd in th'Elysian throng
Ioy to behold him; SYDNEY threw his Bayes
On OXFORDS head, and daign'd to sing his praise;
While Fame with silver Trumpet did keepe time
With his high Voice, and answered his rime.
The soft inticements of the Court, the smiles
Of Glorious Princes the bewitching wiles
Of softer Ladies, and the Golden State
That in such places doth on Greatnesse waite
And all the shadie happinesse which seemes
To attend Kings and follow Diadems
Were Boy-games to his minde: to see a Maske
And sit it out, he held a greater taske
Than to endure a Siege: to wake all Night
In his cold armour, still expecting fight
And the drad On-set, the sad face of feare,
And the pale silence of an Army, were
His best Delights; among the common rout
Of his rough Souldiers to sit hardnesse out
Were his most pleasing Delicates: to him
A Batter'd Helmet was a Diadem:
And wounds, his Brauerie: Knowing that Fame
And faire Eternitie could neuer claime
Their Meeds without such Hazards: but alas
That wee must say, such a Man OXFORD was,
A Hatefull Syllable which doth implie
Valour can be extinct and Vertue die.
O wer't not Profanation, I now
Could turne a stiffe Pythagorist and allow
A reall Metempsychosis, if so
The Soule of OXFORD might divided flow
On much Nobilitie: and yet my sect
Should honour finde from hence, they no Defect.
...Any truly comprehensive critical theory will have to plot a continuum of reality from rhetorical to serious, parallel with its mimetic continuum from literal to formal imitation. The confusion that has ensued because it has failed to do so is nicely illustrated by the basic inconsistency of formalist criticism generally. The formalist argues that literature is autonomous, but he bases his argument on its formal properties, its literariness, on that part of literature which is not autonomous. He wants to use rhetorical coordinates without acknowledging them, without admitting a rhetorical reality as alternate to the serious one.
And if critical theory in the West has, until now, been half complete, the same thing can be said for the Western theory of history. The rhetorical view of life excludes neutral statement by nature. Perhaps this accounts for the bad press homo rhetoricus has gotten from scholars searching for historical reality wie es eigentlich gewesen. For rhetorical man, there is no such thing as as a fact, or a text, as it actually happened. To perceive is to color with intention, conceive as self-satisfying pleasure. Rhetorical man thus implicitly attacks the existence of the world "scientific" historians want to study. The rhetorical ideal thus forces on us a double conception of historical event. Serious history, of whatever persuasion, is based on a recreation of motive. Collingwood seems in this respect wholly correct. Whether we consider political motive, economic, religious, hardly matters. To chronicle purposive behaviour we recreate purpose. Motive, purposive behaviour, is the causality of history. But what if human behaviour is not purposive to begin with? How then? What if we posit as referential the rhetorical, playful range of motive? It is not simply the history of literature which must be rewritten but the literature of history. We need a new literary history, that is, in two senses - a new history of literature and a new conception of history as essentially literary, as animated by dramatic motive, play instead of purpose. And again, fully serious history will combine both conceptions of event: purposive and playful.
June 8 2017 - "Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?"
No, Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change:
Thy pyramids built up with newer might
To me are nothing novel, nothing strange;
They are but dressings of a former sight.
Our dates are brief, and therefore we admire
What thou dost foist upon us that is old;
And rather make them born to our desire
Than think that we before have heard them told.
Thy registers and thee I both defy,
Not wondering at the present nor the past,
For thy records and what we see doth lie,
Made more or less by thy continual haste.
This I do vow and THIS SHALL EVER BE;
I will be TRUE despite thy scythe and thee.
Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford (relentlessly slandered as un-seriosus, unworthy):
Again, Castiglione has vividly depicted more and even greater things than these. For who has spoken of princes with greater gravity? Who has discoursed of illustrious women with a more ample DIGNITY? No one has written of military affairs more eloquently, more aptly about horse-racing, and more clearly and admirably about encounters under arms on the field of battle. I will say nothing of the fitness and the excellence with which he has depicted the beauty of chivalry in the noblest persons. Nor will I refer to his delineations in the case of those persons who cannot be courtiers, when he alludes to some notable defect or to some ridiculous character, or to some deformity of appearance. Whatever is heard in the mouths of men in casual talk and in society, whether apt and candid or villainous and shameful, that he has set down in so natural a manner that it seems to be acted before our very eyes.
Non so che, that indefinable something associated with aesthetic grace (grazia) and charming elegance (leggiadria), was the acknowledged essence of love and beauty. In I libri della famiglia Alberti describes non so che as a "certain something... which attracts men and makes them love one person more than another." Many later critics and theorists, including Lodovico Dolce, agreed. As Cropper, Sohm and other scholars have noted, Dolce's use of non so che may be understood as the ineffable beauty of Petrarch's Laura. Indeed, the indeterminate and unbounded nature of sensible beauty that is part and parcel of non so che is implicit in the term vaghezza, which is related to vagare, meaning to wander or move about without a specific destination. Equicola captures the essence of the allusive indeterminacy in his discussion of the visual apprehension of grazia.
Because la perfetta bellezza cannot be found in one place, a man of total perfection ("uomo in tutta perfezzione") is a composite whole made of diverst parts. Danti explained the preferred compositional method advocated by Renaissance writers. Seeking the assistance of nature, the artist should "make use of various men, in each of whom some particular beauty is to be seen. And having taken this and that from this and from that man, they have composed their figures with more perfection than is possible in [nature].
The Case of Shakespeare:
...An entire study of the je-ne-sais-quois could be devoted to Shakespeare's plays. They dramatize its main themes, whether the ghostly apparition of an insensible force in nature, the stroke of a disastrous passion, or the super-subtle artifice of signs of quality; they show the characters who undergo such experiences attempting, with extraordinary sophistication, to come to terms with them; and, at such moments, forms of the English phrase 'I know not what' tend to appear. Shakespeare's place in the present study is marginal, since my criterion of inclusion was that a writer should occupy at least a potential place in the historical rise and fall of the je-ne-sais-quois (n.), and Shakespeare has no place in that history. He stands apart from it, a stranger on its threshold, while effortlessly revealing his mastery of its terms and themes. As with so many of the new approaches and theories that literary critics bring to his plays, one is left with the bardolatrous feeling that Shakespeare saw the whole thing first, that it was in fact he who dreamt up the je-ne-sais-quois.
A Midsummer Night's Dream exemplifies Shakespeare's mastery of the je-ne-sais-quois. A strange force of sympathy falls between certain individuals in the play. The characters discuss the nature of this force obsessively: some attempt to dispel, subdue, and explain it away; others sense that it is something really inexplicable and inexplicably real and, in saying so, they grasp at forms of the phrase 'I know not what'.
...For love, the play reveals, is the stuff of life: an I-know-not-what that appears and vanishes like a dream.